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City 6 Roundup (Feb. 8): 'Nova women end UConn's streak

02/09/2022, 11:30pm EST
By Sam Istvan


Lior Garzon (above) and Villanova pull off a major upset on Wednesday night in the Nutmeg State. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Sam Istvan (@sistvan_14)

There were some big opportunities among the Big 5 on Wednesday night, but none bigger than the one presented to the Villanova women, who took on Geno Auriemma’s UConn team with a chance to end an epically long Big East win streak. In total, 4 Big 5 teams took to the hardwood on the night, facing stiff competition, including three first-place teams and a second-place team in their respective conferences.

Here’s a roundup of the evening action:

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WBB: Villanova 72, UConn 69

For the first time in 3,322 days and 170 Big East contests, the UConn women suffered a conference loss, and it was at the hands of head coach Denise Dillon’s Villanova Wildcats. It’s a program-defining win for the Villanova women, one that will go down in Big East lore.

After a three by sophomore Lior Garzon early in the fourth quarter, the Villanova lead stood at 18, the win seemingly all but sewed up for the Wildcats. Then, a furious, heart-pounding 17-3 UConn run in the final three minutes put the outcome in doubt. The Huskies couldn’t get a shot off however on their final possession with two seconds remaining, and the rest is history.

Garzon shot the lights out, leading the team in scoring with 19 points (5-10 3Ps), including 8 points and 2 threes in an electric 25-point first quarter for Villanova. Star junior Maddy Siegrist tacked on a 17 point, 12 rebound (5 offensive) double-double effort. The Wildcats grabbed 12 offensive rebounds to UConn’s four.  took advantage of a UConn team missing three starters including star guard Paige Bueckers and forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa.

The history-making victory should alert the AP Top 25 voters and perhaps garner Villanova, now 10-3 in the Big East, a national ranking should they close out the week with two more wins. With a  win over Marquette, also 10-3, on Friday and a DePaul loss to UConn, Dillon and the Wildcats would move up to second place in the conference.

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WBB: South Florida 49, Temple 40

The Temple women welcomed South Florida to McGonigle Hall with revenge on their mind, still smarting from an OT loss to the same South Florida team a few weeks ago in Tampa. A frustrating night offensively, though, denied the Owls a chance to exact that revenge on the second-place Bulls. Mia Davis, the program’s all-time leading scorer, struggled all night against a physical USF team. It seemed Davis could go nowhere without being bumped by a South Florida defender. Head coach Tonya Cardoza was on the refs from start to finish, hoping to draw their attention to the frequent contact. The whistles, though, were few and far between on the USF defense and so were the points for Davis, who finished with 14 points on just 6-21 shooting.

Two big third quarter threes by emerging freshman guard Aniya Gourdine trimmed an 11-point USF halftime lead to just one but the Owls couldn’t find the extra gear in the end, managing just two points in the fourth quarter, as South Florida found separation and pulled away for a gritty, defensive victory.

The loss drops the Owls to 6-4, fourth-place in the AAC. They are still in search of a win over an above .500 AAC team and they will have plenty of opportunities to get one in the closing weeks of the season. Temple will welcome first-place UCF, as well a pair of games against third-place SMU to close out the season. Next up is a match-up against 4-4 Tulsa in Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon.

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MBB: Davidson 73, Saint Joseph’s 67 (OT)

The upset-minded Hawks battled A-10 front-runners, Davidson (10-1) for 40 minutes, and then 5 more on Wednesday, in the end coming up just short on the road against a team that only recently fell out of the national Top 25 rankings. 

Davidson, normally an outstanding three-point shooting team, hit a three on their opening possession. From there, St. Joe’s held them without another three in the first half and gave up just two made threes in the entire game. 

A Taylor Funk 3-pointer with two minutes left put the Hawks ahead, but Foster Loyer found his way to the line where he tied the game, eventually sending it to overtime, where the Hawks came up just short of a signature win, dropping to 4-7 in the A-10. Freshman Erik Reynolds II (20 points, 7-14 FGs) and fifth-year Ejike Obinna (16 points, 13 rebounds) each turned in stellar performances but St. Joe’s didn’t get enough from their leading scorers, Funk (2-14 3Ps) and Jordan Hall (5 points, 2-12 FGs).

Next up, the Hawks will look to bounce back on Saturday at UMass.

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WBB: Rhode Island 58, Saint Joseph’s 48

The St. Joe’s women also had an opportunity to take out a first-place team. The Hawks hung with Rhode Island, who is undefeated in A-10 play (9-0), for three quarters, going into the half tied, and only trailing by 5 after three quarters. A 7-0 URI run to begin the fourth though created a deficit too large for SJU to overcome, as they couldn’t muster what they needed to pull the upset win on their home floor, falling to 4-6 in the A-10.

On the bright side, two young freshmen continued strong starts to their careers, hinting at a bright future for the SJU women. Forward Talya Brugler tallied 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting and guard Julia Nyström scored an efficient 11 points (4-6 FGs, 3-4 3Ps) and dished out 3 assists. St. Joe’s will now prepare to head to George Mason for a Sunday matinee.


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